Twitter’s a Memory Hole

“…it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.” – George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

This weekend, I opened up my Twitter account and read each message I had posted.

Then I deleted it.

And I kept reading and deleting until Twitter stopped showing me my messages – sometime around October 2009.

I started with more than 7200 ‘tweets’ and according to Twitter, I’ve 6,587 remaining.

Now if you visit /garrickvanburen you won’t see any of them. Seems as though Twitter has decided that anything I’ve written prior to, say, October 2009 is no longer available [1]. But – if my profile says I have 6,587 ‘tweets’ – where are they?

I even searched for them via search.twitter.com;

” Older tweets are temporarily unavailable.”

If they’re not accessible – shouldn’t the number be 0?

I’m completely fine with Twitter being temporary. I think it should be (that’s why I mass deleted them anyway). I don’t think Twitter should be indexed by Google or Bing or any other service. The question is – how long should a give ‘tweet’ be accessible?

Nine months seems as arbitrary as 140 character limit and killing off basic auth in August.

So, how long should a ‘tweet’ live?

If Twitter’s goal is to capture the zeitgeist in real-time, how long does it take for a moment to pass?

5 minutes? 1 hour? 24 hours? 1 beat?

Update 25 June 2010: As of this morning, my Twitter account reads ‘0 tweets’. Makes me feel that Twitter doesn’t see any value in keeping the old stuff around and accessible. Feels very Logan’s Run. Not sure how I feel about this yet.

You should get my email